Equestrianism: Whitaker's short cut pays

Ellen Whitaker completed a family double that had been initiated by her younger brother, Thomas, when she rode Henri de Here to win yesterday's Speed Horse of the Year title on the closing day of the Horse of the Year Show. The 20-year-old won despite incurring the four-second penalty for one mistake, having taken a short cut into the fence she had down.

"Dad told me not to do it, but I couldn't see that it would make much difference even if we did have it down," she said, after probably saving three to four seconds through taking the quicker route. As a result she defeated Geoff Luckett on Marleen and Billy Twomey on Whinny Jackson, both of whom jumped clear rounds.

Ellen said that she had been much more nervous watching her 16-year-old brother, Thomas, winning the earlier San Antonio Equitacion Leading Junior Show Jumper of the Year on Miami Bound, the pony with whom she had been runner-up in the same class four years ago.

Having been without her top horse, Locarno, for the first six months of the year during a dispute over the stallion's ownership, Ellen is now able to plan a winter campaign that will include the Oslo and Helsinki World Cups on the two coming weekends. "Locarno's normally in need of a rest at this time of the year, but he had those six month's off so he's still fresh," she said.

John Whitaker had produced the first win of the show for his extensive family when he rode Hugo du Heup to the only clear round of the Xerox Special Event Services Cup. That too became a family double when his 23-year-old son, Robert, cleared 7ft 4in on Finbarr V to become joint winner of the All 4Horses TV Puissance on Saturday night.

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